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A little less salt on roads could save a lot of money

To the Editor:
A subject that has always haunted me is the process of putting corrosive chemicals on our winter roads. I have never been in favor of it, but can also see the need for it in a reasonable manner.
I have noticed the use of salt has now gone extreme even in outlying counties. No longer is it just the curves and intersections being salted, but every mile of road.
Salt is put on before snow events and, if it doesn’t snow very much, salt is used instead of plows. I do a slow burn when I see this going on. I am not criticizing the folks responsible for keeping our roads clear. I think they do a great job, but I think the public has come to expect an unrealistic quality for our road conditions in the winter. I long for the old days when everyone had a set of snow tires, some amount of winter driving skills and common sense.
The luxury of clear roadways is very nice, but it also costs all of us a lot of money in so many ways. Buying salt is the cheapest part of the equation. What it does to our vehicles, infrastructure and environment is the costly part. The proposed, very large increase in the gas tax and vehicle registration tax for road and bridge repair is driving this point home.
Salt use is at times our greatest enemy. The wind that often comes after a snow event blows fresh snow across our roads. The salted roads act as a magnet and catch and hold this snow on the road while unsalted portions are blown and driven clear. Salted roads also remain wet longer than untreated roads; for the same reason it is used on gravel roads for dust control in the summer.
Ever wonder how our neighboring states to the west get by without using so much salt, and why their junkyards are full of old, worn-out but un-rusted vehicles? It is not just the drier climate.
The salt that creeps into the seams and cavities of our expensive vehicles is not easily rinsed away and stays in those minor crevices, eating away at the metal long after the salt season is over. Seal it in with some dust and you have a recipe for disaster that no modern “galvanizing” treatment can withstand.
I guess that could be part of the economic recovery plan because it makes folks have to replace their cars more often. The same process goes for our roads and bridges which, of course, we also pay for.
I know this is a no-win situation and can be very controversial with many things to consider. I think it may be time to step back and look a little closer at our road salting policies that seem to have gotten a bit excessive. I am not saying to eliminate it, but to be a little more conservative and careful with it.
Minnesota cars are all white in the winter, no matter what color they are under the salt layer.
Jon Risch